Residents call for more people to help combat gangs, violence

Albany Gang Task Force Meeting

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It’s time to take action now, that’s what many residents in Albany are calling for who attended a Gang Task Force meeting Thursday.

WALB News 10 cameras were in that meeting to capture what residents and city leaders are pleading for.

With schools set to get out in a few weeks, residents are concerned crimes may increase and kids will get into the wrong things.

Now, they are calling for more people to come to the table to combat crime and gangs before this happens.

“We have to find a way to be more proactive in preventing those 12 year olds from seeing the glamour of the gangs,” said John Hawthorne, a concerned resident.

Aggressive prosecution and gang preventive measures were hot button topics in Thursday’s Gang Task Force meeting with city officials, community leaders and law enforcement all present.

But a concern for Hawthorne is that more officials, pastors and educators in the community aren’t at the table combating violence and gangs in the city.

“Until all of this information comes together, so we can start to make sense of what is causing this to happen and what is sustaining it, then we’ll never be able to get ahead of it,” said Hawthorne.

According to Mike Tabarrok, the Dougherty County assistant senior district attorney, strides have been made to get the the most violent people off the street permanently with the Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative.

“I would estimate probably somewhere between 60 to 85 cases have been presented to the US Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution,” said Tabarrok.

Tabarrok said the D.A.’s Office sends more than four cases for federal prosecution every month. This is all to tackle career criminals at its head.

But for some residents, they’re concerned with young kids thinking it’s “sexy” to commit crimes and do violent things while being in gangs.

“We have to find a way to keep our hands on those children, beyond the summer camps and beyond the time they get out of school,” said Hawthorne.

An issue some feel that others are needed in this room and more work is needed to get to the bottom of gangs and violence.

“We have to do more work. You have to be more open to different perspectives when it comes to crime and punishment,” said James Pratt, another concerned resident.

Community leaders and officials are calling for everyone to come out to the next Gang Task Force meeting to find a bigger solution collectively.

That meeting will be held on May 23 at the Government Center starting at noon in room 120.

Copyright 2019 WALB. All rights reserved.